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Full text of "To the state centres, centres of circle and members of the Fenian Brotherhood"



TO THE 

State Centres, Centres of Circles and Members 



OF THE 



FENIAN BROTHERHOOD. 



+ »i ^ n 



HEADQUARTERS, FENIAN BROTHERHOOD, 

No. 10 West Fourth Street, 

New York, January 24, 1868. 

Brothers : — 

In laying before you the accompanying 
correspondence, which concludes the negotiations into 
which your President and Senate entered in obedience to 
the resolutions adopted at the Cleveland Congress, it is 
proper that I should apprize you of the actual state of af- 
fairs, which placed me at the head of this organization, in 
accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. That 
the officers of your organization have acted in perfect 
good' faith throughout this transaction is proved by the 
resignation, by Col. Roberts and Senator James Gib- 
bons, of the positions which both so long filled with credit 
to themselves and benefit to the organization and the 
cause of Ireland, — positions in which both had served 
their people not only without fee or reward, but at their 
own personal expense, — but which both cheerfully resign- 
ed as soon as they considered that their abdication could in 
any way help to unite the Irish nationalists in America in 
one compact body for the sake of Ireland. Their pa- 
triotic sacrifice has unhappily been in vain, not, as you are 
aware through any fault of theirs, or of the Senate of the 
F. B., by whom their actions was endorsed and sustained. 
You will understand, from the annexed correspondence, 
that at no time has their been any collision between your 
Senate and 'Mr. John Savage, as to the men whom he was 
to send to represent his organization on the Council. All 
that was stipulated was that they should be true Irish na- 
tionalists, pledged to the principles of the organization, 
1 



and whose character and reputation would warrant their 
being entrusted with the control of the resources which 
the Irish people were ready to contribute for the libera- 
tion of their country, but for no other purpose. The real 
difficulty has been created by Mr. Savage's refusal to re- 
cognize the provisions of the Philadelphia Constitution, 
which he had voluntarily accepted, as the first step in the 
basis of union, but which he finally repudiated when the 
time came for putting that basis into practical operation. 
Your President and Senate have been asked to disregard 
the requirements of that Constitution, and the solemn 
oaths which they took to support and maintain it; and 
when, in the faithful performance of their duty, they refused 
to repudiate the laws of the Brotherhood, which had more 
than once stood between the Irish name and the infamy 
which corrupt and designing men would have brought 
upon it, they have been assailed as being opposed to the 
unity of the Irish people. That such was not the case is 
evidenced by the fact that all the members of the Senate, 
without exception,were ready to resign their positions, and 
that it would have required a vote of the body not mere- 
ly to elect seven members to the Council, but to indicate 
who should remain to serve their country, I may add 
that I myself have only occupied the position I now 
hold in obedience to the dictates of duty; and that I 
fully expected, as soon as the proposed union should 
have been effected to resign in favor of whomsoever 
might have been elected by the united Council. Your 
representatives have acted, throughout in the spirit of the 
most brotherly affection for all true nationalists : and not- 
withstanding the insults to which they have been subject- 
ed by men who never made a real sacrifice for Ireland, 
and never gave a day to her service, for which they were 
not more tnan adequately remunerated, they could not be 
driven from the work they have undertaken, and still are 
determined to persevere until all the scattered children 
of our race are united in the effort to give freedom and 
restored nationality to the beloved land of our fathers. 
But the union they look for is no longer a union, npon 
paper, with men, who only regard the sorrows and suffer- 
ings of our race as the capital through which they traffic 
upon the sympathies of our people. What we now want, 
and what we are determined to have, with the blessing 



of Heaven, and our own united exertions, is a uniun of 
those who are disposed to risk all in one grand endeavor 
to wrest the liberties of our country from her oppressors, — 
a union of those who are willing to prove the sincerety 
of their patriotism upon the battle field, 'where, with your as- 
sistance, we are deterimation soon to meet the enemies of 
Ireland. 

Documents conveying to your Circles the programme 
of operations, and the requirements of the situation will 
be forwarded in a few days. Meanwhile, brothers, be- 
leive that we desire union with all good men, who truly 
love Ireland, and that to such our ranks and our hearts 
are always open with Cead millefailthe, in the name of our 
common country. 

Fraternally yours. 

JOHN O'NEILL, 
President, Fenian Brotherhood. 



JOHN SAVAGE TO COL. W. R. ROBERTS. 



EXECUTIVE OFFICE, FENIAN BROTHER- 
HOOD, No. 823 Broadway, 

New York, Dec. 30th, 186T. 

Col. W. R. Roberts: — 

My dear Sir: — I will be happy to see you to-day to con- 
fer and decide upon the names for Council. 

Very truly, 

JOHN SAVAGE. 



-o- 



EXECUTIVE OFFICE, FENIAN BROTHER- 
HOOD, No. 823 Broadway, 

New York, Dec. 30th, 1867. 

Dear Sir : — I understood from our previous conversa- 
tions — when considering relative matters with Mr. Mitch- 
el — that you and I should meet and arrange upon seven 
unobjectionable men each for the Council. It is not a 
matter any longer between the Senate and myself. My 
intercourse with the Senate has, happily, been brought to 
a conclusion. According to the " basis " approved by 
you, the fourteen men agreed upon by you and me shall 
be members of the Council of the United Brotherhood. 

That junction having taken place, on a basis of equality, 
the union has actually been accomplished ; and the Con- 
stitution agreed upon as a law for the United Brotherhood 
comes in as the future guide of all. 

Could we not settle on the names to-night? I was in 
great hopes that the Constitution might be promulgated 
by New Year's Day. 

Very truly, 

JOHN SAVAGE. 



5 
PRESIDENT ROBERTS' ANSWER. 



HEADQUARTERS FENIAN BROTHERHOOD, 
No. 10 West Fourth Street, 

New York, Dec. 31st, 1867. 

John Savage, Esq : — 

Dear Sir: — Your letter of the 30th was received by me 
this evening. I should be most happy to meet you, to 
confer with you regarding the names of those w r hom you 
intend to propose for election to the Senate ; and in our 
conversation, at the time of our calling on Mr. Mitchel, I 
so stated, in order that when the Senate met, there should 
be as little delay as possible in perfecting the union upon 
the Basis agreed upon by yourself and the Senate, and ap- 
proved by me as President of the F. B. 

I understood from you, at the time of your conversation, 
that you would give the names on the 24th inst. ; but I 
received no intimation from you until the 27th, and then 
to the effect that you expected your friends in the city by 
the 30th, at the latest. 

The Constitution of the Fenian Brotherhood, which we 
have agreed to accept as the supreme law of the United 
Brotherhood, clearly defines the manner of electing Sena- 
tors and of filling vacancies (see art. 2, sec. 4), and as I 
have no power to remove or create a Senator, I cannot, of 
course, say who shall leave the Senate or who shall be a 
member of it. It is for the Senate to decide this matter; 
and I have no reason to doubt but that the Senators are 
ready to create vacancies by resignations, whenever you 
are prepared to send in the names of those whom, accord- 
ing to the basis of union, you were to select for election 
to the Council. I assure you, sir, I am most anxious to 
bring to a harmonious and successful close, the union ne- 
gotiations so happily carried on by the Senate and your- 
self; but when a misunderstanding or a misconception of 
the letter or spirit of the basis of union exists, I can only 
refer the matter back to the original contracting parties for 
explanation and settlement, and I shall be happy to ap- 
prove of whatever decision may be arrived at, satisfied as 
I am that it will be for the best interests of our common 
country. The Senate is now in session, and will be most 
happy to hear from you. I trust there will be no delay in 



consolidating all branches of the F. B. ; and in order that 
the good work of union may be speedily consummated, I 
intend placing my resignation of the office I now hold in 
the hands of the Senate to-day. With a fervent hope for 
a speedy, sincere and lasting union, I have the honor to 
remain, yours truly, 

WILLIAM R. ROBERTS, 

President, F. B. 



MR. SAVAGE'S REPLY. 



EXECUTIVE OFFICE, FENIAN BROTHER- 
HOOD, No. 823 Broadway, 
New York, Dec. 31, '67—4 p. m. 
Col. "W. R. Roberts : — 

Dear Sir: — Your reply to my letter of yesterday is just 
received. 

I am fully prepared to carry out the basis of union agreed 
on ; and as you signify a desire to see me to unite in its 
accomplishment, I will be pleased to see you at the St. 
Denis Hotel or any other retired place forthwith. 

I await your reply. 

Yours, truly, 

JOHN SAVAGE, C. E. F. B. 



-o- 



GENERAL O'NEILL TO JOHN" SAVAGE. 



HEADQUARTERS FENIAN BROTHERHOOD,) 

No. 10 West Fourth Street, V 

New York, Jan. 2, 1868. J 
John Savage, Esq., C. E. I. R.: — ■ 

Dear Sir : — I have the honor ro inform you that on the 
evening of December 31, 1867, Colonel W. R. Roberts ten- 
dered his resignation of the office of President of the Fenian 
Brotherhood, which was accepted by the Senate, F. B., 
and on the following day, Jan. 1, 1868, I was sworn in as 
President in his place, in accordance with the requirements 
of the Constitution. 

I am now ready to receive names from you for recom- 



mendation and election to positions on the Senate in the 
manner indicated by my predecessor in his letter to yon 
of December 31, 1867. 

The Senate is now in session, and the gentlemen com- 
posing it are anxious to wind up their business so as to be 
able to return to their respective homes as soon as possible. 
I hope, therefore, that you will see the necessity of a 
prompt reply, so that we can bring the matter to a close 
at the earliest practical moment. 

I am also prepared to exchange with you detailed state- 
ments of the property and resources of the organization, 
and specific lists of the Circles in correspondence with 
these Headquarters, as provided for in the articles of 
agreement. 

I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your 
obedient servant, 

JOHN O'NEILL, President, F. B, 



■o- 



MR. SAVAGE'S REPLY. 



EXECUTIVE OFFICE, FENIAN BRQTHRR- 
HOOD, No. 823 Broadway, 

New York, 2d Jan. 1868, 

Gen. John O'Neill: — 

Dear Sir ;■ — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt 
of your letter of this date, informing me of Col. Roberts' 
resignation of, and your succession to the position of pre- 
siding officer of a branch of the Fenian Brotherhood ; also 
stating that you are ready to receive names from me " for 
recommendation and election to positious on the Senate 
in the manner indicated by my predecessor in his letter 
to you of Dec. 31st, 1867." 

It is to be regretted that you seem to adopt the errors 
of your predecessor in succeeding to his position; and to 
lend yourself to the perpetuation of the obstacles to union 
suggested by his letter of the 31st ult., which his resigna- 
tion, it might reasonably be hoped, would have removed. 

If your predecessor might have misunderstood the basis 
of union, which he approved, it was scarcely to be expect- 
ed that you, sir, one of the framers of that agreement, 
should so far depart from it as to echo a suggestion so 
utterly at variance with its equitable provisions. 



8 

The Basis of Union is the instrument alone which must 
guide me, and should guide you in perfecting the desired 
union. I have nothing to do with the routine of your Se- 
nate. I am not a member of it. The Fenian Brotherhood 
I have the honor to represent do not acknowledge its ju- 
risdiction over their representatives. The members elected 
by it would not be members of a Council of the union ; 
but members of your Senate, a branch thereof. I have no 
authority to introduce men into your Senate. The gentle- 
men to be nominated on the part of the organization I re- 
present to the Council of the re-united Brotherhood are not 
to be elected by your Senate, any more than your quota 
to the same Council are to be elected by my advisers. 

There is no such provision made in the Basis of Union ; 
but there is a specific provision that the council be con- 
structed of seven members from the organization now 
presided over by you, and seven from that presided over 
by me, as a starting point for joint official action. 

Your predecessor urged, and 3 T ou echo the plea, that 
the Constitution provides a mode by which vacancies in 
the Senate are to be filled. It is self evident from this 
that neither the plea made, nor the mode referred to, covers 
the present case, but exhibits a fatal antagonism to the 
idea of Union, as the members of the council to be fur- 
nished, by either side, are not to fill vacancies in your 
Senate, but to be councillors of the re-united organization, 
each councillor entering upon his duties the equal and 
peer in every respect of all other members thereof. 

Again, it is distinctly stated in the Basis that the Phila- 
delphia Constitution of 1865 be proclaimed the supreme 
law of the whole National Body in America. It is phy- 
sically impossible to proclaim it such until the National 
Body in America is actually a whole, and shall have an 
authorized representative to proclaim it. Hence, the Con- 
stitution cannot be proclaimed until the organizations come 
together in the way laid down in the Basis, by a represen- 
tative council; and hence, again, the council cannot be 
elided under the Constitution, but constructed in the man- 
ner specified in the Basis. 

I have acted throughout our conferences and negotia- 
tions under the belief that the representatives of your or- 
ganization were as earnest in their desire for a union as 
the rank and file were. You yourself, sir, said that your 



body were willing to meet me half-way. On the faith of 
this, and on the part of the organization represented by 
me, I said : " Let the past be past," and on that faith the 
Basis was agreed upon. But now your predecessor and 
yourself urge a proposition ignoring the manly half-way 
principle, and outside of the Basis of Union which grew 
out of it. 

Let me, then, sir, implore you to fulfill the obligations 
of the Basis, and not permit the cup of consolation offered 
by it to our bleeding country to be dashed from her fever- 
ish and expectant lips. Let me beg of you to use your 
influence with your Senate to the end that it may turn from 
the past and face the present to obtain future good. Let 
me, finally, pray that your organization will at once name 
seven gentlemen as its quota to the council, according to 
our agreement, and thus end technical distractions, and 
commence a new and auspicious era. I have had the quota 
of my organization ready for several days ; and had their 
names in a sealed envelop when I met your predecessor 
on the 31st ult 

With respect, yours, 

JOHN SAVAGE, C. E. F. B. 



■o- 



GEN. O'NEILL'S SECOND LETTER. 



HEADQUARTERS, FENIAN BROTHERHOOD, 

No. 10 West Fourth Street, 

New York, Jan. 3, 1868. 

John Savage, Esq.: — 

Dear Sir : — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt 
of your letter of yesterday, and must confess no little sur- 
prise at its contents. You say that it is to be regretted 
that I " seem to adopt the errors" of my predecessor "in 
succeeding to his position," etc. Now, sir, permit me to 
inform you that I am not the man to lend myself to any- 
thing but what my honest convictions approve of — nor 
am I the champion of any man. Col. Roberts is quite 
capable of defending his own course, and has, at least, 
shown his sincerity and patriotism by resigning the posi- 
tion which he so long and honorably filled, when he be- 



10 

lieved it necessary in order to assist in bringing about a 
union of the Fenian Brotherhood. And my own inter- 
course with you ought to have been sufficient to convince 
you that I was at least as anxious to effect a union of the 
Irish Nationalists, on an honorable and effective basis, as 
you or any other man who professes to love Ireland possi- 
bly could be. 

In the opening of your letter, you attempt to fasten on 
me the onus of misinterpreting the terms of the agree- 
ment entered into between yourself and the Committee 
of the Senate, F. B., when you say that, " If my prede- 
cessor might have misunderstood the Basis of Union which 
he approved," it was scarcely to be expected that I, as one 
of its framers, "should so far depart from it, as to echo a 
suggestion so utterly at variance with its equitable pro- 
visions." Allow me to say, sir, that, however much my 
views may be at variance with your interpretation of that 
instrument, I flatter myself that I have always understood 
and appreciated the true spirit of the agreement; and 
that I and my coadjutors on the Committee left nothing 
undone to apprize you of our opinions on that subject, is 
shown by the text of our correspondence with you — a 
correspondence of the length and minuteness of which 
you at one time complained, but for which the present 
circumstances, and your retirement from the terms to 
which it brought you, show there was a very strong 
necessity. 

You say that the "Basis of Union" is the instrument 
alone which must guide you, and should guide me, in 
perfecting the desired union ; that you have nothing to do 
with the routine of what you are pleased to denominate 
my Senate ; that the organization you represent do not 
acknowledge its jurisdiction ; that the members elected 
by it would not be members of a Council of the Union, 
but members of my Senate (again). Permit me, sir, to 
correct your language. The Senate of the F. B. are not 
my Senate, nor have they been the Senate of my prede- 
cessor, however their views and his may have been in 
accordance on the question of Irish independence. They 
are the elected representatives of the Irish national body, 
chosen by a General Congress of the Brotherhood, and 
wield a power limited only by the written Constitution 
you have already agreed should be the ruling law of the 



11 

united Brotherhood. They are, to-day, in fact, a govern- 
ment which the scattered children of the Irish "race on 
this Continent recognize as the symbol of their restored 
nationality, — a government which has already done what 
no other body, similarly situated, ever accomplished — for, 
without the power to reward or punish, it put in motion 
against the enemy of Ireland a force sufficient to have 
overborne, all opposition save that of the friendly gov- 
ernment, with which it was neither the desire nor the 
policy of the Irish national organization to come into 
collision. 

You meet the invitation to place your representative 
men before me for election, according to the mode pre- 
scribed in the Constitution, which you have accepted, by 
saying that there is no such provision in the Basis of 
Union, but that the Council was to be first constructed of 
seven members from the organization presided over by 
you, and seven from that presided over by me, " as a 
starting point for joint official action." I regret that you 
oblige me to recall your attention to the fact that, in our 
negotiations, the starting point, as you are pleased to term 
it, was the acceptance, by you, of the Philadelphia Con- 
stitution. The body over which I have the honor to pre- 
side, did not need to take up the law under which it has 
existed from the time of its institution ; and your having, 
on the part of that you represent, signified your accept- 
ance of that law, it follows, naturally, that all succeeding 
action should be taken in accordance with its provisions. 
That such should have been your view of the matter, I 
need cite no stronger evidence than your own action in 
tendering, in conjunction with Col. W. R. Roberts, the 
office of President of the Fenian Brotherhood to John 
Mitchel. There is not on record any compact or agree- 
ment with the Irish people by which they could be called 
upon to recognize any man nominated either by Col. 
Roberts or yourself as the legitimate head of an Irish 
Revolutionary organization. But the Philadelphia Con- 
stitution, by enabling the President and Senate of the F. B. 
to fill official vacancies, kept open a door by which the ex- 
pected head of the united organization could have entered, 
clothed with authority as plenary as that with which his 
predecessor was invested — with a title as unquestionable 
(as far as our body is concerned,) as that by which the 



12 

President of the United States holds his office to-day. 
The necessity of this procedure you must have recognized 
when you signed the Basis of the Union ; for had Mr. 
Mitchell accepted the position tendered to him, by you 
and Col. Roberts, the agreement says that he should "be 
at once installed under the provisions of the said (Phila- 
delphia) Constitution." There is not a line in that Con- 
stitution which states that either John Savage, William 
E. Roberts, or any committee whatever, have the power 
to nominate or install a presiding officer for the Fenian 
Brotherhood. But there is a provision by which the 
Senate are empowered to elect the President of their own 
body, which officer, it is declared, "on the death, removal 
or inability to act of the President," shall become the 
President of the Fenian Brotherhood. Thus, Mr. Mitchcl, 
in order to reach the Presidency "under the Provisions 
of the Philadelphia Constitution," would have to be (and 
would have been) elected a member and president of the 
Senate of the Fenian Brotherhood, so that, on the resig- 
nation of President Roberts, he would have succeeded, 
not merely to an emyty title, but to the full power and dig- 
nity of a high and responsible office. Had Mr. Mitchel 
accepted that position (as it was hoped he would), the 
agreement states that he should be "at once installed 
under the provisions of the Constitution as President of 
the United Brotherhood." In being so installed, he 
would have had to take an obligation to preserve and 
carry out the provisions of that Constitution in its fullest 
sense; and in his capacity as President, he would have to 
call upon you, as Col. Roberts and myself have done, to 
send in, for confirmation and election, the names of those 
whom you desired to place on the Senate as the represen- 
tative of your organization. I can scarcely believe that 
you have looked fully into this matter, or you would not 
now propose to introduce those gentlemen into the Execu- 
tive Council of the United Brotherhood by a process more 
summary and less legitimate than that to which you 
agreed to submit a man whose name stands so high 
amongst the nationalists of Ireland, and whose intimate 
associate you claim to have been in former struggles for 
our common couutry. 

You say the position taken by my predecessor and my- 
self, — that the mode prescribed by the Constitution, by 



13 

which vacancies on the Senate are to be filled — " exhibits 
a fatal antagonism to the order of union, as the members 
of the Council to be furnished by either side are not to 
fill vacancies'' in what you persist in again calling my Senate, 
"but to be councillors of the re-united organization, each 
councillor entering upon his duties the equal and peer, in 
every respect, of all other members thereof-" It appears 
to me, sir, that in insisting on the observance of these 
provisions of the Constitution to which you now object, 
the committee of which I was a member, as well as my 
predecessor and the Senate of the F. B., were not only 
careful to provide for the proper government of the Fenian 
Brotherhood, but were even more studious than you seem 
to be to preserve the honor, dignity, and authority of the 
members who should represent your organization in the 
future council, and more anxious to ensure that they 
should enter that body as the "equals and peers" of those 
whom they would there meet. For what say the terms 
of agreement — that the council designated therein, shall 
be "the Senate provided for in the Philadelphia Constitu- 
tion." Surely you do not mean to tell me or the Irish 
nationalists at large, that a council chosen irresponsibly 
by you and Colonel Roberts, as you proposed in your 
letter of December 30th, would be the Senate provided 
for by the Philadelphia Constitution — a legislative body 
elected directly by the chosen representatives of the 
people, with power to fill vacancies occurring in their 
body — the only real elective government in Irish national 
affairs that the Irish people have acknowledged since the 
destruction of their independence as a nation. The Senate 
of the Fenian Brotherhood, elected by the general Con- 
gress of the organization acting under the Philadelphia 
Constitution, is to-day the Senate provided for by that 
Constitution > and its members, in voluntary making the 
"vacancies" which you object to fill, desire only to place 
the representatives of your body upon a footing of perfect 
equality with themselves. They are the elect of the 
people, with power to transmit their own power to those 
who maybe called to fill "vacancies." In this respect, 
sir, men who would be merely your appointees, would not 
be their equals in the eyes of all who value representative 
government. We desired to shield you and your party 
from this contingency. But you reject the means to 



14 

which you at first agreed. On you be the responsibility. 
I have not. as you pretend to say, in any way, departed 
from the spirit or the letter of the agreement entered into 
between us. 

Yon admit that, in accordance with the basis of uuiou, 
the Philadelphia Constitution must be "the supreme law 
of the whole national body in America," but you imme- 
diately state that it is "physically impossible" that that 
law can go into operation until a council has been desig- 
nated as you desire, and especially that the council cannot 
be elected under the Constitution but "constructed" before 
the Constitution can go into operation. If this be so, the 
council you propose cannot be "the Senate provided for 
in the Philadelphia Constitution," for that Senate is the 
creation of the Constitution ; and you would place the 
creature before the creator, — in a word, you would inau- 
gurate chaos, by placing the subject above the law which 
warrants and governs its existence. But, aside from all 
this, you were apprized at every step of the negotiations 
which led to the agreement from which you now recede, 
that the organization I have the honor to represent ac- 
knowledged the Philadelphia Constitution as the govern- 
ing law of their body; and when you objected to, and 
desired to set aside, those provisions of that Constitution 
which provided the mode of electing the Senate, etc., the 
committee of that body, which waited on you, in their 
communication of December 11, 18GT, reminded you that 
— "when you propose to abrogate or abolish any portion 
of the Constitution of the Brotherhood, without the cou- 
' previously obtained, of the people from whom it 
emanates, it is proper that you should be reminded that, 
however other parties may assume to go outside of the written 
law, from which alone they derive any authority, the President 
and Senate of the Fenian Brotherhood have never attempted to 
usurp powers not expressly confided to them; and the fact that 
the Congress of Cleveland, previous to entrusting to vs the 
charge of these negotiations, reaffirmed the Philadelphia Con- 
stitution, showed conclusively that that body did not contemplate 
delegating, even to the officers whom they selected to conduct their 
''rs, the power of setting aside the Constitution or any por- 
tion of it, as we are invited to do in your letter of this date." 

To the correctness of the position thus taken by the 
committee, you assented in your subsequent communica- 



15 

tions ; and in your letter of December 12, you intimate 
that if your objection to the name of "Senate" could be 
removed by changing it to that of " Council," there would 
be no "difficulty in the way of Union." That concession 
— inasmuch as it did not in any way conflict with the con- 
stitutional provisions — was made to you, the committee, 
at the same time reminding you again that they could not, 
and would not consent to set aside any of the clauses of 
the Constitution, which defined and provided for the na- 
ture and functions of the body they represented. Upon 
that understanding you signed the basis of agreement, in 
which it is expressly stated that no change except a nomi- 
nal one shall be made in the Senate; yet you now again 
ask that body and myself, as you before asked my prede- 
cessor, to suspend the fundamental law of the organiza- 
tion from which our whole authority is derived, while the 
most important branch of its government is being "recon- 
structed" according to the interests or caprices of a couple 
of individuals, to neither of whom have the people ever 
entrusted such enlarged powers. The inconsistency of 
your position with that which you voluntarily occupied 
on the former occasion is manifest, and can only be ac- 
counted for on the hypothesis that you repent of the 
agreement into which you then entered. 

That the representatives of the organization over which 
I have the honor to preside have been in earnest in their 
desire to promote a union of Irish nationalists, needs no 
better proof than their presence in this city during a 
period which has now extended over several weeks — many 
of them remote from their homes and business, and all 
suffering in their personal interests, endeavoring to bring 
about an agreement. That agreement, as signed by your- 
self, they are still ready to perfect, in the spirit in which 
it was concluded, and on the plain interpretation which 
its terms and the correspondence accompanying it will 
justify. I will therefore again ask you to send in the 
names of the parties who are to represent your body, in 
order that they may be acted upon as required by the 
Constitution. I have also to remind you again — what 
you appear to have overlooked — that the basis of agree- 
ment requires an exchange of inventories of property and 
resources, and lists of circles, which I am prepared to 
furnish without delay. 



16 

You have appealed to me, sir, in the name of bleeding 
Ireland, to act so as that good only should accrue to her 
out of these transactions. Your words were not needed 
as an incitement to me in that direction, and I can point 
to the record of my life — touched, not unfavorably by 
your own pen — in proof of that fact. From my earliest 
boyhood, my hopes, my aspirations, had no other tendency 
than that imparted by the desire of being some day of 
service to my native land. My profession as a soldier was 
chosen with the fixed idea that whatever military know- 
ledge I might acquire should be directed to the redemp- 
tion of my country ; and it is the proudest reminiscene 
of my life, that, upon the field of battle, I have at last 
been enabled to put that knowledge to a practica) use, 
and at the hazard of my life, and under circumstances in 
which but few men would have made the attempt, to 
plant the green flag of Irelaud above the ensign of her 
hated oppressor, in an armed fight for Irish liberty. That 
fight I entered upon with my whole heart, and to it I am 
determined to devote my existence, if necessary, and 
every effort which I am capable of making. Backed by 
the patriotic organization I represent, and confident in 
the justice of our cause, I have no fears for the ultimate 
result of that struggle, and shall press on to the end with- 
out hesitation or delay. Should we have the aid of your- 
self and the men you represent, in those efforts, believe 
me we shall ever be ready to receive you as brothers, and 
to welcome your accession as becomes true Irish national- 
ists. But whether you join us or not, it is our determina- 
tion to push on our work for Ireland's liberation without 
stoppage or intermission ; for, after all, it is upon the 
battle-field that our country must be redeemed, and the 
instruments of her regeneration must be the rifles and 
sabres of Irish Republican soldiers, not the pen3 and 
quibbles of diplomatic casuists. 

I have the honor to remain, yours respectfully, 

JOHN O'NEILL, 

President, F. B. 



IT 
REPLY OF MR. SAVAGE. 



EXECUTIVE OFFICE, FENIAN BROTHERS 
HOOD, No. 823 Broadway, { 

New York, 3d Jan., 1868. J 
General J. O'Neill : — 

Dear Sir : — Your voluminous communication has been 
received, and met with suitable consideration. A reply 
to it would be superfluous ; not because'it is unanswerable, 
but because it is an elaborate evasion of the obligation 
which you solemnly agreed to carry out according to the 
Basis of Union, and from which I cannot depart. 

Your exposition of the mode by which you intended to 
make Mr. Mitchel President, is at once a commentary on, 
and illustration of your sectional position. If Mr. Mitchel 
was elected in the manner you intended, he would simply 
fill Mr. Roberts' place over a branch, and not be the pre- 
siding officer of the whole National body in America, as 
contemplated by the Basis of Union. I would not remind 
you of the fact, that after presenting me with a treatise of 
twenty-one pages, you speak of the efficacy of acts and not 
words, but that I desire to limit this correspondence, and 
put the following question, to which I respectfully request 
a categorical answer : — 

Will you, or will you not, present the names of seven 
persons on the part of your organization, to meet and unite 
with seven appointed by me, to form a Council as per 
Basis of Union ? 

I am ready to present a full exhibit of all moneys, pro- 
perty and material of war, &c, and to turn over the same, 
as the basis directs, " to the officers of the United Brother- 
hood." Respectfully, 

JOHN SAVAGE, C. E. F. B. 



-o- 



GENERAL O'NEILL'S REPLY. 



HEADQUARTERS FENIAN" BROTHERHOOD, ) 
No. 10 West Fourth Street, I 

New York, Jan. 4, 1868. J 
John Savage, Esq : — 

Dear Sir : — Your communication has been received and 
contents duly noted. In it you state that my communica- 
2 



18 

tion to you yesterday is " an elaborate evasion of the obli- 
gations which I solemnly agreed to carry out according to 
the Basis of Agreement." This I deny, aud refer you to 
the Basis of Agreement and the correspondence already 
had in reference to it. You ask me for " a categorical an- 
swer to the following question : — ' Will you, or will you 
not, present the names of seven persons, on the part of 
your organization, to meet and unite with seven appointed 
on the part of the organization represented by me, to form 
a Council, as per Basis of Union ? ' " To which. I reply, 
that I have n@ power to make appointments for either 
Senate or Council, and the members can only be elected 
on the Senate and Council, as prescribed by the Philadel- 
phia Constitution, which I have sworn to support and 
which you have agreed to accept. A compliance with 
the process therein prescribed would be no material sur- 
render on your part, and would but simply enable me to 
fulfill the spirit and purpose of our agreement — the only 
object that you, or I, or the people should desire, without 
the violation of my solemn oath, which I cannot believe 
you could expect. By this obligation, — as you cannot have 
been ignorant from the first, — I and the Senate are irre- 
vocably bound ; while you are in no such manner restrict- 
ed. I pray you, therefore, not to retard or prevent the 
union of all Irish nationalists, by asking impossibilities of 
me ; but as, in effect, this mode of procedure, to which we 
are solemnly obligated, would be precisely the same as 
that which you propose, — let us, in the name of Ireland 
and honest sincerity, rise above forms to whieh we are 
not bound, and proceed to perfect that union which will 
be so agreeable to all Irish patriots, without the anomaly 
of asking men, to whom you would commit the trust of 
this great cause, first to break their solemn oaths to the 
people. 

I again call upon you to send in your seven names so 
that they may be elected by the Senate, as prescribed by 
the Constitution and in accordance with the Basis of 
Agreement. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

JOHN O'KEILL, President, F. B. 



19 
MR. SAVAGE'S LETTER. 



EXECUTIVE OFFICE, FENIAN BROTHER- 
HOOD, No. 823 Broadway, 
New York, Jan. 6, 1868. 

Gen. John O'Neill : — 

Dear Sir: — Yours of the 4th, in reply to mine of the 
3d inst., reached this office after 6 p. m. on Saturday even- 
ing. I grieve to see that it is a continued expression of de- 
parture from the Basis of Union. You lay the usual stress 
upon the Philadelphia Constitution of 1865, and strive to 
make it the supreme law of a body which does not exist. 
I accepted that Constitution as the supreme law of the 
United Brotherhood, and will acknowledge it such when 
the Brotherhood is united. Your solemn oath is not bind- 
ing on me to observe forms I cannot recognize until a union 
of the Brotherhood has taken place. If your solemn oath 
will prevent such a union as the basis contemplated, theu 
you should not have agreed to such a basis. If you made 
this basis knowing that you could not carry it out, then 
your predicament is not to be envied. While further cor- 
respondence on this subject seems to be futile — judging 
from the persistency with which you insist on autocratic 
powers of jurisdiction over the men who are to compose 
the Council of the United Brotherhood — I am not willing 
to give up the idea and hope of union while a chance re- 
mains by which it may be accomplished. The differences 
of opinion between us as to the mode of carrying out the 
Basis of Union are positive, and from all appearances 
there is no hope of arriving at a mutually satisfactoiy so- 
lution. As a party to it, I believe I understand its scope, 
and justly value its powers ; but I am willing to have my 
views tested by a completely uninterested ordeal. I there- 
fore propose that we submit the matter for arbitration to 
three gentlemen, one to be named by each organization 
respectively, the two thus chosen to select a third ; and 
that the decision rendered by them shall be final and bind- 
ing on the parties to these negotiations and the organiza- 
tions in whose behalf the Basis of Union was agreed upon 
and signed by authority. 

Awaiting your reply, very respectfully, 

JOHN SAVAGE, C. E. F. B. 



20 
GENERAL O'NEILL'S KEPLY. 



Washington, D. C, Jan. 10, 1868. 
To John Savage, Esq : — 

Dear Sir : — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt 
of your communication of the 6th inst., forwarded to me 
from New York. This letter, although addressed to me, 
was evidently intended but for the public press; as it was 
received at my Headquarters, in New York, about five 
o'clock Monday evening, and published in the New York 
papers Tuesday morning. Were it not for a still linger- 
ing hope for " union," which is begotten of my own ar- 
dent desire for that end, rather than of any spirit that you 
have manifested in conducting these negotiations, your 
flagrant violation of the courtesies of life, and manifest 
unfairness in thus publishing your exparte letter before 
giving me time to reply to it; or unaccompanied by the 
correspondence to which it purported to be a reply, would 
force me to regard it as unworthy of my notice ; and, were 
it not for this hope, I wguld most emphatically agree with 
you in saying that w farther correspondence on the sub- 
ject seems futile." 

I know not whether I am more grieved or astonished at 
the position you have chosen on this question, and your 
obstinate tenacity to which, is so clearly evidenced by this 
last letter, — grieved for the general patriotic yearning, 
which calls for the " union" of all Irish nationalists, — 
astonished at the most dishonorable proposal with which 
you conclude your letter. You have persistently insisted 
upon an interpretation of the " Basis of Union," as un- 
warranted by its express terms, or by inference, as it is 
dishonorable and insulting — at least in its persistency — to 
the members of the Senate and myself, — an interpretation, 
indeed, so clearly without warrant, that you have not had 
the temerity to argue it. 

I could honorably discuss with you the question, whether 
or not I might, consistently with my oath of office, waive 
the constitutional mode of adjusting the union, and adopt 
that proposed by you ; but I can do so no longer, when it 
is made so clear that I cannot abandon that position, with- 
out the violation of my oath, that even you yourself do not 
deny it ; but simply claim that my " solemn oath is not 
binding " on you, and even seem to rejoice in the predica- 



21 

ment, into which the cause of "union" has got by the 
irreconcilability of your interpretation with any concession 
possible on my part. 

Your proposal to submit the matter for arbitration to 
three gentlemen, &c, you know to be as clearly impossible, 
unconstitutional, and as involving of perjury on my part, 
as the mode previously rejected on the same grounds 
You may feel the necessity for a committee to determine 
what you mean ; but i" feel under no such necessity ; and 
to ask me to submit to any three gentlemen, whether I 
shall violate my oath of office, is simply supremely ridicu- 
lous. Now, sir, I cannot and will not conduct these nego- 
tiations any further on this line ; for, in the face of all that 
has already passed between us on this subject, your jy;o- 
posal to me to ignore my oath, is as inoffensive to me, as 
it should be repugnant to yourself. 

Meet this question honestly and squarely. It stands 
simply thus : we both profess to desire one united organi- 
tion, under the Philadelphia Constitution, governed by a 
President and Senate as provided for in that Constitution, — 
the Senate to be called " Council ; " said " Council " to be 
composed of seven men from your organization and seven 
from that over which I have the honor to preside, together 
with a fifteenth of their united election — the President to 
be elected by said "Council." With the process you pro- 
posed the united organization would be governed by a 
President, elected by a Council composed of seven men 
from each organization, and a fifteenth of their choice ; and 
by said " Council." The Constitutional process, proposed 
by me, and required of me by my oath to support the 
Constitution, would give precisely the same result, viz : a 
President elected by a " Council" composed of seven men 
from each organization, and a fifteenth of their choice ; 
and by said Council. The end reached then, under either, 
being precisely the same, what can be the purpose of your 
obstinacy, if it be not to induce me and the members of 
the Senate to break our oaths, as if the one essential re- 
quisite to qualify us as custodians of the organization, and 
the Constitution which was to govern it, were to first break 
our oaths to support it. In truth, does not this seem 
something worse than paradoxical ? You knew, when 
you accepted this Basis of Union, that I or the Senate 
could not go outside of the Constitution in carrying it 
out; for we so assured; you in the most explicit terms. — 



y 




22 

You knew that the Committee, which proposedfAa/ Basis 
to you, advised you, in writing, (in letter of December 11th,) 
that "they (the President and Senate) could not go out- 
side of the written law from which they derive any au- 
thority;" and had not "the power of setting aside the 
Constitution or any portion of it." You accepted the 
Basis of Union in the face of that assurance, and you are 
therefore bound, in honor and sincerity, by your own <xct 
of acceptance (if not by my oath,) to interpret^the Basis by 
the light of tnat knowledge. 

Now, sir, I have no Alternative, as you know, from the 
Constitutional mode, but perjury. You are bound to no 
other process. Then, why not adopt the only mode upon 
w \ >^ it is possible for me to meet you, and according 
with the only legitimate interpretation of the Basis agreed 
on. If you will not honestly meet me on this ground, 
knowing, as you have from the first, that it is made obli- 
gatory on me by my solemn oath, and as the union result- 
ing wonld be the same by either course, what conclusion, 
then, is it possible for me to arrive at, but that, instead of 
occupying your mind with the question how you could effect 
a union, your only inquiry has been, what could you propose 
which you knew 1 could not accept f In a word, will it not 
appear that your efforts have been rather to prevent a union 
than to accomplish it ? 

I pray you, in conclusion, not to lend yourself to the 
purposes of those who L^vte that Constitution, as the monu- 
ment of own their infidelity and perjury; who would feel 
an ignoble gratification at the destruction of that instru- 
ment, which stoodjbetween them and the life and virtue of 
the organization ; or who would still more rejoice at the 
perfidity of its defenders. But, if you still refuse to accede 
to my proposal to send in the names of your seven men for 
election to the "Council," I then re-echo your opinion 
that " further correspondence on the subject seems futile; " 
and but regret that so much valuable time has already 
been wasted : while I, and the organization of which I am 
President, have but to continue, with all possible vigor, 
to carry out our purpose of raising an army and revolution, 
that may give liberty and independence to Ireland ; be- 
lieving our record in the past to be sufficient earnest of our 
sincerity in the future. 

Yours, respectfully, 

JOHN O'NEILL, President, F. B.